Dreading January? As a bookkeeper, we’re going to guess that’s a yes – unless you’ve managed to file all your clients’ Self-Assessment tax returns already…
Getting this monumental task completed early is no mean feat. But it is possible to get through the tax season without experiencing a stressful sprint to 31st January.
Here, Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax explains how.
Gather all information soon
Don’t wait on your clients to give you the required data. Contact them so that they will send it earlier – making it as easy as possible for them in the process. You may even wish to provide a simple format like a tax questionnaire to ensure they give you what’s needed.
It’s good thinking to set them a deadline for this. While clients will be aware of the tax return due date, they might think nothing of providing you with the information the day before.
Your client will likely find it easier if you deal with HMRC too. Therefore, ask them to sign and register the 64-8 form earlier rather than later. This will make you officially recognised as their agent by HMRC, and able to act on their behalf.
Know what you need
You should request all the data you require from your client. They won’t appreciate you asking for more details when you could have done so the previous time! So, think before you act.
As well as the standard data needed for an accurate Self-Assessment tax return, you may require extra information.
Perhaps they have a student loan. Maybe they (or their partner) are claiming Child Benefit. If there’s the slightest possibility the client’s circumstances will affect how much tax they need to pay, you should be aware.
Keep reminding clients
Unfortunately, the likelihood is that not all your clients will respond to your initial information request, or the first polite nudge. Realistically, the only thing you can do is to continue reminding them.
You can give them a bit of encouragement to act, however. Submitting the Self-Assessment late comes with penalties, so tell clients about these and how they will need to provide all the necessary data to ensure they avoid them.
Make sure your communication methods are working too. A lack of reply might signal that the client has changed email address or phone number and either hasn’t informed you or their details haven’t been updated on your system.
Check for mistakes now
It’s possible that, when your clients do provide their information, they might have missed something out or made an error.
So, once you’ve received everything you need from them, look at it as soon as possible. You’ll want to guarantee that nothing doesn’t quite add up or has been excluded.
Don’t make your own mistakes either. If your client paid too much tax previously, for example, put their bank details on page TR6 so they’ll get their refund. Or, if they underpaid and it’s being collected through either their current tax code or their one for the next tax year, communicate this through either box 7 or 8 on page TC1.
Minimise errors with tax software
The chances of any mistakes can be reduced through Self-Assessment tax return software. It will take all the administrative work off your hands, ensuring the numbers are correct.
As a result, you’ll have more time to provide valuable financial advice to your clients.
Plus, Making Tax Digital (MTD) will be rolled out to Income Tax in the future. Therefore, tax software has the extra benefit of future-proofing your services.
GoSimpleTax supports bookkeepers all over the UK to file accurate Self-Assessment tax returns for their clients. You’ll be able to do so quickly as well – their software automatically calculates income, expenditure and tax owed in real time, and from a variety of devices.
IAB members take a free trial today with no credit card required and receive a 10% discount. Upon registering for the trial you will be emailed your discount code.
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